Monday, June 13, 2011

Gardening & Preserving Week 1 and other stuff

a row of pepper plants, getting ready to flower
It's finally summer here in the Great White North.  Things are growing, including my own garden which is chock full of tomatoes, peppers, beans and even an eggplant plant.  Oh and don't forget my plethora of herbs.

one of my 9 tomato plants
I have a funny story about tomatoes.  Well funny, depending on who you ask.  For the last two years in March we have started tomatoes from seeds.  Last year was completely learning year and from 24 little peat pods we only got two plants, which ended up not being a big deal since we were out of town for most of the season.  The Boy, who is generally in charge of all things garden related, learned from some mistakes and we started this March with new knowledge and a plan.  A plan that was going fairly well until I was left in charge of things.

You see, sometime towards the end of May, when the weather started getting nicer, the Boy decided we should give the tomatoes some sun.  So I moved them outside on a hazy kind of day that was warm but not too sunny. The haze was the killer, because see I thought that as long as it wasn't sunny they could stay outside.

So I left them.

All. Day. Long.

Didn't check them, putzed around the way I usually do and thought nothing of it.

Then the boy came home. Saw the sad bleached leaves of our babies and yelled about as much as he does at me, which really isn't much at all.  He was understandably upset, I mean he was the one who took the bulk of the responsibility nuturing the little plants getting them to the stage they were at.  And I, in my ignorance about plants killed them.

It's ridiculous, I know.  I love food, love fresh food even.  So wouldn't I want a bevy of tomato plants that we grew from seed in my backyard, wouldn't I go above and beyond to keep them healthy and safe. Apparently not!

some of my herbs, still small but they're growing!
I cried about the dead plants and the Boy took his chance to make me feel even worse about it all.  But we ultimately ended up laughing about it and went to our local garden center to buy seedlings.  In doing this I decided that the garden was going to be my baby.  I'd plant everything and take the responsibility for watering it and everything.  I felt it was the only way I'd really learn about what goes into it and truly appreciate, even more, fresh local food.

sweet million tomato flower!
And the plants seem to be thriving, we even have some flowers blooming on the tomatoes, waiting to be delicious Super Sweet Million tomatoes.  Some on the jalapenos too!

But this post isn't meant just to be about gardening.  God knows I don't know enough to devote too much space to it.

Living in Canada and becoming more and more involved with farmer's market buying and eating locally has made preserving a pretty vital part of my summer.  If I want berries in the winter I can absolutely buy some that have come from Chile, but I'd rather not.  I'd rather go into my chest freezer or hit up my preserves shelves in the basement and pull from something that was grown locally.

pickled asparagus tips
I plan to preserve, be it can or freeze, at least one thing every week this summer.  Time permitting I'll be sharing everything with you folks too.  A little about my trials and tribulations and hopefully lots of successes.

So what did I do the last few weeks?  I mean that's really want you care about right?

aspragus puree, perfect for soup

Here's the rundown:

- 2 pint jars of pickled asparagus tops - I'll share the recipe soon!
- 1 1/3 cups of frozen aspragus puree - made by boiling the woody ends from 3 bunches of asparagus in water, draining and pureeing them - easy peasy!
- 3/4 cup frozen Ramp & Arugula Pesto
- 1 bag of frozen ramp bulbs
- 1 bag of frozen sweet cherries - freeze these by pitting them and placing them on a cookie sheet and into the freezer for a couple hours, they transfer into a freezer bag, suck out the air with a straw and place back in the freeezer.
- 1 bag of frozen rhubarb

Finally this isn't a preserve persae but something fun that I made using a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen.  Homemade fudgcicles, one of my fave ice cream bars growing up.  When I was in the middle of my big preserving day on Tuesday I realized I had all of the ingredients that this recipe calls for.  It is seriously beyond easy and something you need to do right away!

So, are you jumping on the preserving bandwagon this year?  I highly recommend it if you have the freezer space or if not just play around with canning.  It's super rewarding and fun too.

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